San Pedro BTIA (Belize Tourism Industry Association) held its membership meeting on Friday, April 3, 2009 at Elvi’s Kitchen. At the head table was Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture, Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., Chairperson of SP BTIA Julie Babcock, Vice-Chair – Catherine Paz and CEO of the Ministry of Tourism – Mr. Michael Singh.
Minister Heredia and Mr. Singh had a lot to say in the meeting as they explained various plans for the development of the tourism industry in the country of Belize which include:
* The addition of more flights by American Airlines. Special flights will include mid-week flights and discounts as well. Belize will be changed from a diving destination only, which is more expensive, to a dive destination/beach, rainforest, archeology destination which will make the package more cost effective and cheaper for travelers. Additionally Belize will be on the cover of American Way Magazine in July with a full spread page.
* $15Mil US is going to be used for a sustainable tourism project which will include: (i) the beautification of North Front Street in Belize City, (ii) the expansion of the sidewalks in Placencia and the edification of a village plaza for a more festive feeling in Placencia. (iii) Expansion in the Cahal Pech Archeological Site and other major archeological sites in San Ignacio (iv) the remodeling of Saca Chispas Sports Field in San Pedro to include a proper sports facility, a sunset boardwalk along the lagoon on the western side and the construction of proper passenger docking facility. Bacalar Chico Eco Park will also receive assistance.
* Another major project is the upgrading of all municipal airports in the country. With Corozal having had its runway upgraded last year; plans are for Belize City to have the runway expanded by acquiring some land from St. Johns Junior College. San Pedro will also have a full study for the airport expansion for proper parking and upgrading of the entire runway. Mention was made that Maya Island will be upgrading its terminal as well.
* On the long term, there are plans for an International Bus Terminal near the Phillip Goldson International Airport as well as a Water Taxi terminal in the river.
* A $27 million-dollar plan for a garbage project is to be signed by the end of this month. The plans call to have garbage transfer stations at Caye Caulker, San Pedro, San Ignacio and Belize City, to have it picked up and taken to Mile 21 on the Western High and hopefully be turned into energy.
At the end of the meeting, the Minister asked those for input and constructive ideas from the audience with many plans ahead of us, the meeting closed on a positive note for tourism development and the improvements for San Pedro and Ambergris Caye.